Faculty: Wayne Godwin | Eastern North Carolina Now

Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of ECU News Services. The author of this post is Ken Buday.

Photos: Rhett Butler

    Growing up in rural Johnston County, surrounded by farms, Wayne Godwin learned what he called the "basics of southern life, church, family and community."

    Today, he carries those ideals with him as the director of the Honors College Innovation Design Lab (IDL) and as an associate professor in the School of Art and Design at East Carolina University.

    Growing up, he worked in tobacco fields and at a nearby dime store. Through it all, he developed a passion for art.

    "Art was something that I always did," Godwin said. "It was not something that anyone in my family had experience with but the thing they all encouraged me to do. I can't recall a time in my life when I wasn't drawing, designing and making art."

    He came to ECU and obtained bachelor's and master's degrees in art education and ceramics. He started a career as an art teacher in Wayne County and eventually made his way back to ECU as a faculty member in 1996. He teaches 3D modeling and animation and also leads the IDL.

Wayne Godwin, director of the Honors College Innovation Design Lab, looks inside one of the 3D printers at the facility located on Jarvis Street in Greenville.
    "The IDL provides a neutral meeting ground for diverse, multidisciplinary innovation teams where design is the translating language and the connector between the arts and the sciences," Godwin said. "The IDL uses established design thinking processes to enhance creativity and guide its application into innovations."

    While serving as a hub for innovation and creativity among Honors College and other students, the IDL has served an important role during the coronavirus pandemic, especially in spring when medical professionals lacked enough personal protective equipment (PPE) needed to protect themselves from sick patients.

    ECU students and researchers began a quest to help solve the PPE shortage, using the IDL's banks of 3D printers to produce their various designs for testing so those on the frontlines could be safe.

    "We are very proud of the students' efforts during this national emergency," Godwin said. "The students rose to the challenge of the shortage of personal protective equipment available to medical professionals. It is essential that the medical community that is the first line of defense for our region be adequately protected. We now know that PPE works to prevent the spread of this deadly virus."

    Godwin said seeing the creativity of students grow through the IDL is his inspiration.

    "I enjoy watching a student grow when they are approaching a new challenge using design thinking; seeing them design, build, test and learn from the process; supporting them in taking the small steps that grow to the desired results; and allowing them to become comfortable with 'navigating without knowing,'" Godwin said.

    Godwin calls students the best assets of the university. As a faculty member associated with the Honors College, he embraces the opportunity to work with the diverse group of innovative and creative students who are driven to change the region, state and nation for the better.

    "Working in the Honors College is a first-rate experience," Godwin said. "You know you are a part of a community of doers."

    What I do at ECU: I teach 3D modeling and animation in the animation/interactive design concentration in the School of Art and Design. I am the director of the Honors College Innovation Design Lab and also teach design thinking.

    What I love about ECU: The students are the best asset the university offers the region, state and nation.

    What advice do you give to students? Never let anyone else define who you are and never stop redefining yourself.
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